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Avington Park Update

The below memos were sent to the Board of Directors from our fellow area HOA Presidents. This memo is designed to update you the residences of The Park at Wolf Branch Oaks with the happenings of Avington Park.

Date: May 26, 2017

Several months ago a group of concerned homeowners in the area around the proposed Avington PUD property came together to organize an opposition to the PUD (planned unit development). The goal was to retain our rural lifestyle with one house per 3.5 acres and no city sewer/water services, no annexation, and insure that the issues caused by a development with high density housing are prevented.

Our concerns were presented to our community homeowners and a voluntary contribution process was set up to fund the opposition to the PUD. Wolf Branch Village was the largest contributor in the amount of $3900.00. Our commitment to contributors was that we would oppose all efforts to create a development that did not reflect a similar style of home sites that surround the Avington site. A strong campaign was waged and the PUD plan for 418 homes was defeated at the planning board and withdrawn from county commissions after overwhelming community rejection.

Since the defeat at the planning board and withdrawal of the PUD plan from the commissioners, we are aware that there have been numerous meetings and other communication with the lobbyist, the Avington property owner, and at least one of the commissioners without the knowledge or participation of the full campaign team. Compromises to our original position have been made that we do not agree with, have been agreed upon with the Avington property owner, and presented to at least one of the commissioners. These conditions have little or no chance of being acceptable to the county and will open the door for the Avington property owner to move forward with the original plan for a 418 PUD. The Lake County Commissions will likely approve an unacceptable plan fearing a lawsuit.

The three members (Mary Aspedon, Harry Stauderman and Roy Fountain), along with the Avington property owner, have gone to the commissioners with a plan that calls for 209 houses as communicated by Mary Aspedon and Harry Stauderman. The plan for 209 still does not provide individual lot sizes that are a fair and equitable compromise to our original goal of one house per 3.5 acres and eliminating city sewer, water and potential annexation.

Given the following:

  1. Campaign direction no longer represents the original agreed upon goals under which funds were committed by our community.

  2. Lack of representation in key communications meetings, agreements and spending approvals.

  3. The decision making has been taken over by three individuals (Mary Aspedon, Harry Stauderman and Roy Fountain) who are not representing the original agreed upon plans and goals of the involved communities.

  4. Wolf Branch Village has been the largest contributor to the campaign.

  5. No accounting or approval of expenditures.

Wolf Branch Village and Grove Hill do not support the “campaign” currently being managed by Mary Aspedon, Harry Stauderman and Roy Fountain. The campaign must be redirected to our original goals with equal representation from each of the communities surrounding the Avington property.

Memo Dated June 12, 2017

Dear Residents of The Park at Wolf Branch Oaks:

This is a response to the e-mail from Charlie Flint of Wolf Branch Village and Jon Suarez of Grove Hill posted to your website on June 5th. The purpose of this response is to correct and clarify some of the assertions made in that e-mail.

As you know, the rezoning application for the Avington Park development was withdrawn prior to the March 21 meeting of the Lake County Board of Commissioners. The commissioners subsequently requested that representatives of the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed development meet with Damian Winterburn, Avington Park owner and developer, to attempt to find “middle ground.” For that purpose, a meeting with Winterburn was held on April 24th and was attended by the five opposition neighborhood representatives: Mary Aspedon, President of Hills of Mount Dora HOA; Charlie Flint, President of Wolf Branch Village HOA; Roy Fountain, President of Wolf Branch Estates HOA; Harry Stauderman, Representative of Avington Road residents; Jon Suarez, Representative of Grove Hill residents; and Angie Langley, lobbyist for the opposition representatives. At the meeting the neighborhood representatives presented our concerns regarding density, inconsistency with surrounding neighborhoods, traffic on Wolf Branch Road, annexation by the City of Mount Dora, impact on schools, property values and quality of life.

The developer asserted that his plan for 418 homes (two homes per acre) was necessary in order to make the development financially feasible. The biggest expense in developing the property is paving and bringing City of Mount Dora utilities down Avington Road. Neighborhood representatives stated that we simply do not support two homes per acre and believe, from meetings with each of the Commissioners, that they also are not in favor of that density but will support one home per acre, a model compatible with many of the neighborhoods surrounding Avington Park. Winterburn stated that he would visit with planners and consultants and get back to us.

The developer subsequently proposed a plan for 209 homes (one home per acre). The plan would be possible if Lake County agrees to pave Avington Road, a county-maintained road, and if wells and septics are used instead of utilities provided by the City of Mount Dora. This plan reduces by half the number of homes originally proposed, the amount of traffic added to Wolf Branch Road, and the number of additional students in schools. It also avoids annexation by the City of Mount Dora and a substantial increase in our taxes.

Although the e-mail sent by Charlie Flint and Jon Suarez published on your website suggests otherwise, both were present at and participated in the meeting with the developer on April 24. When the developer subsequently offered that, if Lake County would pave Avington Road, number of homes could be reduced by half (from 418 to 209 which is one home per acre), and wells and septics could be used instead of utilities provided by the City of Mount Dora, the proposal seemed worth considering especially since that plan would avoid annexation and a substantial increase in our taxes.

The next logical step was to determine if the County paving Avington Road was even feasible so Angie Langley arranged a meeting with Leslie Campione, our County Commissioner. Present at the meeting were Harry Stauderman, Roy Fountain, Mary Aspedon and Ms. Langley. Following the meeting, Harry Stauderman contacted the remaining two neighborhood representatives, Charlie Flint and Jon Suarez, and fully apprised them of what occurred at the meeting. At this point, both Mr. Flint and Mr. Suarez expressed support for the revised proposal.

The meeting with Commissioner Campione is the only meeting that has occurred since the April 24th meeting with the developer attended by Mr. Flint and Mr. Suarez. Mr. Flint’s and Mr. Suarez’s statement that there have been "numerous meetings and other communication with the lobbyist and the Avington property owner” since the Planning & Zoning meeting is untrue.

At this point, Commissioner Campione is simply gathering information regarding the feasibility of the County paving Avington Road. In meetings with Commissioners prior to the Planning & Zoning meeting and as stated at that meeting, it has always been clear that the Commissioners would support development of one home per acre. For the past 20 years the Commissioners consistently have approved developments of one home per acre as demonstrated in Hills of Mount Dora, Wolf Branch Village, and the Park at Wolf Branch. For Mr. Flint and Mr. Suarez to state that such a plan has “little or no chance of being acceptable to the county” has no basis in fact. The plan most likely to be unacceptable is that now supported by Mr. Flint and Mr. Suarez---one house to 3.5 acres. With surrounding neighborhoods having many lots averaging one house per acre, to demand that the Avington Park development have one house to 3.5 acres is not realistic.

A full accounting of monies collected and expended through the Planning & Zoning meeting and up to the scheduled County Commissioners' meeting was provided by the BCN law firm and sent to all neighborhood representatives, including Mr. Flint and Mr. Suarez. Contributions were made on the basis of $50 per household by all five neighborhoods. Ms. Langley, lobbyist, was paid through BCN for hours worked according to an agreement made at the beginning of the opposition effort.

Finally, it is completely incorrect for Mr. Flint and Mr. Suarez to suggest that any “plan" has been agreed to by any or all neighborhood representatives. No “compromises” have been made, and no plan has been “presented” to anyone, certainly not the Commissioners. While Mr. Flint and Mr. Suarez initially were positive about one house per acre and avoiding potential annexation it certainly is their right to change their minds regarding what type of development their neighborhoods would support on the Avington Park parcel. However, for Mr. Flint and Mr. Suarez to suggest that other neighborhood representatives are moving forward without inclusion and transparency is simply not true.

Respectfully yours,

Mary Aspedon, President

Hills of Mount Dora Homeowners’ Association

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